How Star Entrepreneurs Do Nothing

colleen debaiseI went to the Wall Street Journal’s “How I Built It” roadshow here in Austin last week. I love any event that’s about sharing lessons learned! I’d much rather steal a great idea than have to reinvent it myself.

Hosted by Colleen DeBaise, the Journal’s Small Business Editor and author of The Wall Street Journal Complete Small Business Guidebook, the conversation turned to one of my favorite topics: how to do nothing productively.

Mark Rampolla, founder & CEO of ZICO coconut water, recalled being inspired by the question his father asked him when he was developing his new company: “What are you doing to think about the business?” Rampolla’s father was a professor and researcher who devoted one day a week to analytical and creative thinking. To this day, Rampolla devotes one half-day every two weeks to his “thought time.” “I schedule time at a library or cafe and tell the office I’m unavailable. I set out a pad of paper to doodle, write, and think.”

Tim O’Shaughnessy, co-founder & CEO of, takes walks. “When I have a significant decision to make, I leave the office and start walking. If it’s the weekend, my wife has no idea when I’ll return. It could be a half hour or six hours.”

O’Shaughnessy reminds us all–entrepreneurs or not–“it’s important to have time to yourself.”

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